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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: WCW Starrcade ’93 – It’s All On The Line!

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Our weekly WCW Chairshot Classics series continues with Starrcade ’93!

Open: A sentimental video package plays featuring pictures and videos of Ric Flair’s life and career as he’s putting it all on the line tonight against Big Van Vader.





Video: Vader arrives with Harley Race at 2:00pm, Race tells him to keep his focus as they enter the arena for a pre-show workout. In a separate video, ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund has gone to Ric Flair’s home as he’s prepared to leave for the event. He says goodbye and hugs his children. Gene talks to Flair as he explains the kids are worried about tonight. They get in the limo, Flair knew what he was doing when he signed the contract, but he has a lot to prove.

Match #1: Pretty Wonderful (‘Pretty’ Paul Roma & ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff) w/The Assassin vs. 2 Cold Scorpio & Marcus Alexander Bagwell w/Teddy Long
Teddy Long is presented with a plaque naming him the 1993 Manager of the Year prematch, voted for by fans using the WCW Hotline. They waste no time to have an all out brawl. Scorpio and Bagwell throw their oppenents into one another. They dropkick Roma out of the ring and hit Orndorff with a double hiptoss. Bagwell lifts Scorpio for an assisted pele kick on Wonderful. He tries a quick pin but Nick Patrick wants order. The babyfaces hold the ring and they finally head to their corners as the crowd taunts Orndorff. Bagwell and Roma start the action.

Roma is hesitant to lock up. Roma throws a kick to the gut and Paul with some high impact blows. To the ropes, Bagwell ducks and hits a crossbody. Arm drag into an armbar by Bagwell as Roma complains he pulled his hair. Bagwell with leverage on the wrist and he tags his partner. Scorpio with some quick forearms as he works over the damaged arm. Scorpio grabs a wristlock and dives over the top rope to slingshot Roma. Back to the wristlock and it’s a quick tag to Bagwell. He goes to the hammerlock and drives Roma shoulder first into the corner. Snapmare by Bagwell and a leg drop across the shoulder. Bagwell continues to hammer but it’s Roma with a desperation scoop slam. He’s able to tag in Orndorff but Bagwell greets him with an armdrag.

Tag is made to Scorpio who hits a double ax handle. He holds the wrist and drives him with headbutts. Orndorff goes to the eyes to break it and hits a European uppercut before booting Scorpio to the ramp. Front face lock, he tries a suplex but Scorpio lands on his feet. The Cold Man tries a victory roll but Orndorff holds the ropes. Scopio flips back and lands a hip toss. He climbs to Orndorff’s shoulders and takes him down with a head scissor. He holds Orndorff down with a modified head scissor submission. Tag is made to Bagwell who comes in with a big splash that earns a two count. Back to the wrist but Orndorff reverses with a drop toe hold.

A tag is made to Roma but he gets the drop toe hold as well. To the ropes they go, Bagwell catches Roma’s boot, taunts him and hits an atomic drop. Arm drag by Bagwell and he holds the arm. He twists the wrist and tags in Scorpio. An impressive sequence while hitting the ropes that ends with a hiptoss by Bagwell and a splash by Scorpio. He makes the cover and Roma kicks out. Scorpio pounds on Roma’s head and knees him in the forehead. Modified hammerlock drop by Scorpio and Bagwell is tagged back in. Roma reverses the wristlock and tags in Wonderful. European uppercuts and some kicks to the ribs for Bagwell. Orndorff drives his face into the canvass and elbows the back of Bagwell’s head.

A scoop slam and another driving elbow by Orndorff who appears to have a lot of energy. He sends him for the ride, but Bagwell ducks and hooks in a sleeper. The partners rush into the ring, Patrick backs off Scorpio allowing a cheapshot from the top by Roma. Back breakers by Roma while Scorpio protests that there was no tag. Pretty Paul elevates with an elbow and Bagwell kicks out. He tags in Orndorff and they each take liberties. Belly to back suplex by Mr. Wonderful and Scorpio is still incensed. Quick tag is made to Roma who snaps Bagwell to the mat. He sends Bagwell for a power slam but he pulls off the cover and heads for the top rope. He tries the big splash but Bagwell moves. Orndorff is tagged first but he misses the elbow, so here comes 2 Cold.

He beats Orndorff down with rights and sends him to the ropes for a leaping forearm. Roma rushes to help but he’s drop kicked to the floor. Scorpio with a snap suplex on Orndorff and he heads to the top rope. Roma tries to pull him off the turnbuckle but Bagwell saves the day. Orndorff staggers to his feet and he’s hit with a double ax on the top of the head. Spinning karate kick by Scorpio. The Assassin climbs onto the apron and he’s decked by The Cold Man.Snapmare by Scorpio on Orndorff and he measures Wonderful while The Assassin puts something into his mask. Scorpio charges Orndorff, he’s lifted up and Assassin delivers a headbutt. Orndorff falls on top of Scorpio to pick up the win.
Winners: Pretty Wonderful (Orndorff/Outside Interference)

  • EA’s Take: I’ve expressed how much I liked this pairing of Scorpio and Bagwell on several of these now and how I was surprised that they never rose higher together, so I did a little research. They were the 1992 Tag Team Of The Year, very popular with the fans, but apparently developed some confusing heat with one another that started on a plane ride. Strangely, it has escalated in recent years as they’ve replied to one another on the shoot interview scene. If you ever watch the clips, I think Scorpio has been watching a few too many New Jack shoots, personally.

Video: ‘Mean’ Gene and Ric Flair continue their limo ride to the arena, quietly discussing everything that’s on the line tonight. Flair is appreciative of Gene’s friendship whether he wins or loses. Gene reflects on all the memories he’s made for himself and all the fans over the years. Flair tells a story of a fan who approached him, asking who will be the one to “Wooo” if he loses. He told him he will be the only one to do that and he’s not going anywhere.

Match #2: The Shockmaster vs. Awesome Kong w/King Kong
The Kongs ambush Shockmaster and send him for a double clothesline. They hold him in place for a splash in the corner. Awesome hits a splash on the mat while the ref gets King out of there. Kong with rights and forearms, Irish whip but Shockmaster gets the big boot up. He charges him with a clothesline and then sends him for a flying body press. King Kong is on the apron Shockmaster knocks him off. He lifts Awesome Kong for a body slam and he picks up the quick win.
Winner: The Shockmaster (Body Slam)

  • EA’s Take: This match wouldn’t have thrilled me even if it was on WCW Saturday Night let alone Starrcade, but they’re trying to maintain a dominant big man, so it is what it is. Honestly, The Shockmaster should have died the night he fell through that damn wall.

Backstage: Flair’s limo has arrived at the arena, surrounded by police. Gene shakes his hand and sends him on his way.

Match #3 for the WCW World Television Championship: WCW World Television Champion Lord Steven Regal w/Sir William vs. Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat
Steamboat grabs the belt and holds it up to an ovation. Steamboat corners Regal and the ref tells him to back off. Regal doesn’t want to be touched and stays in the corner. Steamboat charges with a single leg pick up and Regal lectures the ref to get him away so he can take his time. Finally a collar and elbow, Regal gets position on the ropes but they keep going. Steamboat drops to a knee but he pushes the champ’s chin, Regal backs to the ropes and it has to be broken. Steamboat charges right back in and Regal retreats again to the corner.

Now it’s Steamboat stalling as he appears to favor his arm. Single leg by Regal, he steps on the bicep and takes a wristlock. Steamboat flips to his feet but Regal works him back to the mat. Steamboat up again and he reverses it. Regal somersaults and regains control. Steamboat says touché and flips out of it and whips Regal down hard. Hammerlock into a side headlock by Regal, to the ropes they go, they each block hip tosses and Steamboat takes him down with a double leg and flips over to bridge for a pin. Regal kicks out, but Steamboat is quick with the hiptoss. Regal reels back to slow it down. Collar and elbow, side headlock take down by Steamboat and Regal is forced to keep getting his shoulders up.

To the ropes they criss cross. Steamboat counters Regal’s pick up and flips the champ on his back. Regal is quick to move to an ankle lock. Steamboat climbs up but Regal kicks him in the ribs and holds onto the ankle. Steamboat puts his boot to Regal’s head and stands up for an enzigure. Scoop slam by The Dragon and he heads for the top. He flies with a big karate chop and Regal must kick out at two. Steamboat hooks on an armbar and maneuvers for leverage. The champ works to his feet and they hit the ropes. Shoulder block by Steamboat and he goes back to the arm. Regal leaps up to his feet, lifts Steamboat with a fireman’s carry but the challenger escapes. He grabs a wristlock as there are 5 minutes left in the 15 minute time limit.

He muscles Regal to his back and the champ must keep his shoulders up. William tells the fans to shutup as “USA” chants start. Steamboat drives the knee into Regal’s tricep. He cranks back on the wrist but Regal doesn’t submit. Steamboat flips over with a modified hammerlock. He tries moving into some roll ups but can’t get 3. Regal tries bridging out of a head scissor submission. Back to their feet, Regal clubs with high impact forearms and then turns Steamboat around for a European uppercut. More from the champ, but Steamboat gets some adrenaline and chops Regal out of the ring. Sir William approaches him with the umbrella but Steamboat turns around and catches him in the act.

He pursues William and chases him around the ring, baiting him into a Regal dropkick. Steamboat is rolled back into the ring, Irish whip, Steamboat tries leapfrogging Regal but is pulled face first on the mat. Regal applies a reverse chin lock and chops Steamboat. Steamboat reverses an Irish whip but Regal comes back with an elbow. Steamboat with a desperation arm drag and hits another one. Regal grabs a head scissor but Steamboat somersaults into a cover. Regal bridges out of it, he hooks the arms but Steamboat fights out. Butterfly suplex by Steamboat and Regal kicks out. The champ bails out to the floor but Steamboat catches him. He knocks William and Regal’s heads together and rolls Lord Steven back in.

He heads up to the apron but William holds his boot. Steamboat kicks him into the post and slingshots Regal across the top rope. He tries a flying cross body but Regal moves. Both men are slow to get up at the 10 second mark. Steamboat ducks a right and scores with a German suplex but he’s out of time. Regal retains the title on a draw.
Winner: Time Limit Draw

  • EA’s Take: It’s all about subtleties with Regal and it’s the little things like cowering out of the way to waste time at the beginning of a time limit match. Lots of great mat work in this one, if I were booking I would set up a rematch with a no time limit stipulation because this one was just a clinic.

Match #4: Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne vs. Tex Slazenger & Shangai Pierce
It’ll be Payne and Pierce to get the action rolling. Collar and elbow tie up and there is a quick break. They lock up again, Pierce with a side headlock, to the ropes and neither moves on a shoulder block. Pierce boots the gut, they hit the ropes and Pierce takes him down. Payne reevaluates. Payne with a boot this time and to the ropes again, this time Payne with the shoulder block. He scoop slams Pierce and he backs to his corner. Here comes Slazenger… and here comes Jack. Collar and elbow, Slazenger with position in the corner and he lays in a few rights. They lock up, Jack blocks a right and sends Slazenger down with shots to the jaw.

Jack drives him into the turnbuckle but Slazenger comes back with an elbow. He goes to the eyes and sends him for an Irish whip. Jack gets his boot up and comes back with a few strikes. Tag is made to Payne as Jack grabs the wrist. Elbow from Payne and he grabs the wristlock and makes a quick tag back. Jack yanks him down by the arm, goes for a cover and Pierce has to make the save. Jack decks him on the apron while Payne takes care of Slazenger. Double team clothesline by Payne and Jack. Pierce tries pulling his partner out but Jack won’t have it. Tag is made to Payne, Irish whip but Slazenger moves and comes back with a bulldog.

Slazenger is up first, boots Payne in the head and tags in Pierce. Clubbing forearm and to the ropes they go. Payne comes in with a sunset flip and gets two. Payne ducks a right and hits Pierce with a belly to back suplex. Payne makes a tag and Jack goes to work with rights and a headbutt. Slazenger comes in to save his partner and Payne takes exception. Jack clotheslines Pierce over the top rope and falls to the apron himself. Slazenger confronts him and instead he’s slingshot to the floor. Payne lifts Jack with a backbody drop outside to fall on top of Slazenger. Back in the ring, Pierce blindsides Payne. He heads to the top, tries a double ax handle but Payne cuts him off. He pulls him down with an armbar submission but Slazenger makes the save.

Payne ducks a double clothesline and hits both opponents with one instead. Tag is made to Jack and he’s immediately ambushed by the Texans. Slazenger holds Jack in place, Jack ducks and Tex is clotheslined to the outside by his own partner. Pierce glances over to check on his fallen partner, he turns around and walks right into a double-arm DDT.
Winners: Cactus Jack & Maxx Payne (Jack/Double-Arm DDT)

  • EA’s Take: This match had really poor flow for which I don’t blame Jack, he brought the most sense to it all. While it seemed like a creative idea, that assisted back body drop by Payne couldn’t have been much sloppier unless Foley fell square on his head on the apron. Cactus Jack has a funny spot on this roster. He’s popular with the fans, he’s not main event, but he’s certainly not undercard. He’s not the most technical guy in the world, but he can give you a good match. Lord knows he’s willing to put his body on the line. It seems like they either have something specific that is really great like working with Vader or otherwise they don’t quite know what to do with him. They know they definitely want him on the show, so he’s thrown into debacles like this.


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Chairshot Classics

Chairshot Classics: What I Watched #16 – ECW Guilty As Charged 1999

Breaking up the 2018 time travel with a much deeper dive! Harry goes back to some prime ECW with Guilty As Charged 1999!

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Greetings, salutations and welcome back. Harry here once again with another edition of ‘What I Watched’. As the calendar year turns to 1999 on my watch-through of all things ‘big three’ wrestling, I covered Starrcade 1998 in an earlier edition of WIW. I figured since this is probably the last year where all three major companies are relevant (at least at the start), it could be fun to compare and contrast how I feel about the respective PPVs when compared to some of the independent wrestling I’ve been covering recently. Or even going back to the PROGRESS or Impact Wrestling shows that I’ve covered before. I am fully aware there are going to be some bad shows in 1999. But there is also a lot to talk about in a drastically changing industry. Let’s do this, shall we?

ECW is in flux as talent losses haven’t yet gotten to what they would become but names like Sandman, Mikey Whipwreck, Bam Bam Bigelow and others are no longer with the company. To make matters worse, the ECW-FMW relationship is falling apart now as well as a Chris Candido and Sunny (sorry, Tammy Lynn Sytch) no-show of a scheduled FMW appearance. Paul Heyman himself is the first person we see telling us the card is going to change…how much does it change? The WayBack Machine takes us to January 10th, 1999 in Kissimmee, FL as it’s time for ECW to be Guilty as Charged!

What I Watched #16

ECW Guilty as Charged 1999

1/10/1999

Millenium Theatre in Kissimmee, FL

Runtime: 2:40:30 (Peacock)

Commentary By: Joey Styles (PBP)

 

THE RESULTS

  • Match 1: Axl Rotten/Ballz Mahoney win 3 team tag elimination match, eliminating Little Guido/Tracy Smothers @ 10:44 (Danny Doring/Roadkill eliminated @ 8:15)
  • Match 2: Yoshihiro Tajiri pins Super Crazy, dragon suplex @ 11:37
  • Match 3: Psycho Sid Vicious pins John Kronus, powerbomb @ 1:31
  • Match 4: Bubba Ray and D’Von Dudley def. New Jack/Spike Dudley, both Dudleyz pin Spike @ 10:05
  • Match 5: ECW TV Title- Rob Van Dam pins Lance Storm, bridged German suplex @ 17:46
  • Match 6: Justin Credible pins Tommy Dreamer, That’s Incredible on ladder @ 18:44
  • Match 7: ECW Heavyweight Title- Taz defeats Shane Douglas © by KO, Tazmission @ 22:15

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Three Team Tag Elimination Match
Started as a straight up 2 vs. 2, but within the first two minutes, Ballz and Axl (Axl making his return to the company after the passing of his grandmother) join the frey and it becomes your traditional ECW three team brawl. Nothing really stands out here but the overall work is good enough for what the match is supposed to be. The elimination of Doring and Roadkill is well done, as a FBI double-team fishermanbuster looks really cool and gets a decisive win for what was to be the original match. They do give the win to Axl and Ballz here, which I get given the fact they are a popular act, but I personally think  that Guido and Tracy were a better team during the time frame. (**½)

Super Crazy vs. Tajiri

Yes, it’s the feud that never ends. But this is where it begins. Both men were relative newcomers to the American wrestling scene with both having had limited exposure on WWF TV (both were in the Light Heavyweight title tournament). This is a good match but not a great match and honestly, I think timing is the issue here. Eleven minutes may seem like a lot but knowing what these two would be capable of down the road once there is more of a fan and time investment into their matches, it ends up being a good starting point but probably not the blow away match that ECW was expecting to deliver here. (***)

John Kronus vs. Mystery Opponent

So, ECW fans are notorious for their belief that the “big oaf” style of the WWF and WCW wouldn’t work in ECW. Obviously, they are wrong. Guys like Big Dick Dudley and 911 became massive fan favorites due to their look, not anything they could do in a wrestling ring. You can add another name to that list, as Psycho Sid makes his ECW debut here (following an introduction by the ‘Judge’ Jeff Jones) and absolutely kicks Kronus’ ass in less than two minutes. Sid was never anything special in the ring but he is one of the more charismatic big men in wrestling history so the cult-like following is easy to understand. Too short to rate, but fun for what it was. (X)

Dudleyz vs. New Jack/Spike Dudley

Sixteen year old Harry getting into ECW was a huge Joel Gertner fan. Thirty seven year old Harry going back and watching these shows is an even bigger fan of Joel Gertner. Granted, his shtick is incredibly juvenile but sometimes, you just want to laugh…

The match is your standard ECW garbage brawl. Most New Jack matches definitely have a similarity to them that does not hold up well for re-watching. I will openly admit to being a Spike Dudley mark and he does well taking an ass whooping from Bubba Ray. The Dudleyz definitely have their moments in ECW (the best is still to come in my opinion) but this isn’t one of their best performances. I will give props to New Jack for taking 3D on the ramp, even if it doesn’t come across the cleanest. About what you’d expect, but nothing more. (**)

TV Title- Rob Van Dam © vs. Lance Storm

Rob Van Dam vs. Masato Tanaka was the originally scheduled match and I think it could have been fun. However, Tanaka apparently has visa issues which prevent him from being able to get into the US for the show and thus ECW has to pivot quickly. I do have to give credit to Lance Storm for his pre-match promo here. For someone who is not known as one of the better talkers in wrestling history, he does a really good job explaining the situation with the 3 way that was supposed to happen (Storm vs. Spike vs. Jerry Lynn (cracked pelvis)) and then calling out Rob Van Dam since his opponent wasn’t there either. Storm has a really good closing line for the promo too: “I’m not the ‘Whole F’n Show’, but I am the best damn part of it’. That is one of the lines that sticks with you and you remember it.

The match itself is very good but not great. It is better than anything else on the show, so perhaps I’m rating it on a slight curve for that. Van Dam’s selling is sporadic but to be fair, Van Dam’s selling is always sporadic. The biggest thing for me is that despite that, they still keep an impressive pace and the match is by and large clean. There is a super weak chair shot by Storm (which the crowd gives him a good ration of shit over), but they do manage to turn that crowd around for the finishing sequence. A little surprised by the choice of finish, but I imagine that has something to do with telling the idea that Storm got caught and wasn’t soundly defeated like most of Van Dam’s prior opponents had been. (***½)

Stairway to Hell- Justin Credible vs. Tommy Dreamer

The problem for Credible in ECW is that Paul wanted you to believe that Justin was this huge deal but truthfully, the booking never actually treated him as such. Yeah, he won…A LOT…but more often than not, it was almost treated as an afterthought. He very rarely won the big matches on his own and while I get that as a heel, you want to give him that sense of dickishness, as a wrestling fan eventually you have to make it look like the dude could stand up on his own. Dreamer has long been a favorite of mine, even if he has overstayed his welcome in the ring on occasion. You know going in that win or lose, Tommy will bust his ass to give you as good a match as he is capable of. 

As for this match, it never reaches that next level that you expect a gimmicked semi main event of a PPV to reach. It’s not actively bad or anything (in fact, probably up there for Credible’s best match in ECW to date) but with the stipulation and the gaga around it, it feels like there was so much more it could have been. The finish comes off really flat as well as it renders the whole point of the stipulation useless and only serves to put more heat on Credible by way of Funk. (**½)

Heavyweight Title- Shane Douglas © vs. Taz

So, I’ll be a little nicer to this match then some other reviewers I’ve seen for a couple reasons. It completely accomplishes the goal that Heyman set out for it. Taz comes out of the match looking like a world beater. Douglas comes out of the match as the face of the company who “went out on his shield” as the old phrase goes. Sabu looks like a lunatic and a viable threat to take the title at any time he damn well pleases. Candido comes off as a huge dick and sticks the final knife in Douglas’ back for the end scene. So the story telling is magnificent. 

The match itself? At least a good five to seven minutes too long for that story. I get wanting that epic storytelling to fold out but when you guys are down and low on ideas, it might not be the worst idea to take it home. The other issue is that by trying to serve so many masters, Heyman causes the main event to end up being epically overbooked. Granted, that is an ECW trademark but for what was to be the crowning moment for Taz, I don’t think the 73rd Airborne needed to be a part of it. Sabu could have just as easily returned post match to set up a run with Taz. Or Candido could have turned on Douglas post match to give him a direction going forward since Taz would be occupied with Sabu. I’m not saying it completely takes away the moment but it does make it mean less than it could or should have in the overall scheme of things. (**)

 

THE FINAL REACTION

  • Best Match/Moment: Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm, although I do think their match at the first ECW PPV ‘Barely Legal’ (which I imagine I’ll eventually do) is better
  • Worst Match/Moment: The main event. What could have been an awesome moment for the ‘Human Suplex Machine’ and the biggest ass kicker in the company is ruined with a boring crowd brawl (to the home viewer) and a couple of run-ins that either end up actively taking away from it.
  • Overall Show Score: 5.5/10
  • MVP: Joey Styles is the best thing about this show with his one man performance. There is a reason he was such a major influence on what I did as an announcer.

 

THE SIGNOFF

It’s not a bad show. It’s just not a particulary good one either. And while ECW would put out worse, it only barely outdoes Starrcade 98 to avoid the worst show of the return thus far.

So, where do we go from here? January of 1999 had no chill. The very next Sunday would see the first WCW outing of 1999, called Souled Out. The Sunday after that would be the 1999 edition of the Royal Rumble. I’m going to hit both of those but as a fair warning, I’ll probably try to mix an Independent show from 2018 in the middle of them. Hope to see you guys at Souled Out. And feel free to check out my archives by clicking on my name at the top of this review. Thanks for reading, everyone.


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Chairshot Classics

What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018

Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!

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ALL IN

Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.

I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.

What I Watched #10-B

ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018

9/1/2018

Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL

Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)

Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)

THE RESULTS

  • Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
  • Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
  • Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
  • Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
  • Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
  • Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
  • Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
  • Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
  • Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
  • Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
  • Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44

 

THE BREAKDOWN

Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)

*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)

Over the Budget Battle Royal

*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)

Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross

*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)

Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)

*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)

Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard

*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)

NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)

*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)

‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela

*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)

ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon

*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)

Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.

*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)

Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll

*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)

Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio

*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)

THE FINAL REACTION

There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.

Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.

Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.

Overall Show Score: 8.5/10

MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.

THE SIGNOFF

And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.


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